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Five things college has taught me about dating

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The concept of “dating” means something different to everyone. Does it simply involve going on dates or do you have to DTR (define the relationship) to consider yourself “dating” someone? What does being in a relationship even entail? And what do you do when you and your significant other aren’t on the same page about things?

Some people have already delved into the world of dating and started discovering the answers to these questions for themselves while others have yet to do so (and that’s okay). If there’s one thing that most people with experience in dating have learned since coming to Stanford, though, it’s that dating in college is almost nothing like dating in high school. The living situation, course load and involvement in extracurriculars all play a role in how and if everyone is involved in the dating scene. And, for everyone, there’s surely still more to be learned.

With that, there’s much to be said about sharing “dating” experiences and advice. College can be confusing enough without involving a special someone in your life. How can you safely navigate Stanford’s sea of dating when barely keeping your head afloat in Math 51 and CS106X? Sometimes talking to someone else can help clear your path a little more.

Thus, here are a few things I’ve learned both from my own experiences with “dating” and from others.

1) Find a strong group of friends before diving into the dating scene.

Friendships are some of the most valuable connections you’ll make while in college. It’s important to secure this platform of support before exploring “dating” and what it means to you. Chances are, your friends will continuously be the ones you go to in times of confusion, whether that be with that Math 51 p-set or relationship troubles. They’ll be there for the ups and the downs — for celebrating that interview you just scored or, unfortunately, sometimes helping you down that bucket of ice cream after a break up.

2) Figure out what you want right away.

Like finding that foundation of support with a group of friends, it’s also important to sit down and figure out exactly what you’re looking for before getting into any sort of relationship. Do you really have time to commit to another person with all the labs and PWR papers you have to do? People always say not to overload yourself with units; so, view a relationship as another three units. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and what you’re capable of taking on.

3) Then, figure out what the other person wants.

With any relationship, there are always the two variables of your own expectations and the other person’s expectations. There would be no point in figuring out exactly what you’re looking for if there’s still confusion in the relationship because of a lack of communication. So, sit down and talk about it. There’s no reason not to.

4) Find a balance between prioritizing your work and prioritizing your relationship.

The harsh truth is, you’re still in college (most likely), and you came to college to get your degree (hopefully). If you both decide to make it official, that’s great. But you still have to focus on your studies. The best way to go about finding a balance between the relationship and your work then is to communicate. What do you have to do this week? What do they have to do? Don’t just leave them confused because they don’t know if you’re busy or just don’t want to spend time with them. Talk about your schedules, and make time for each other. (But don’t forget that philosophy paper you have due.)

5) Make time for yourself.

Whether you are or aren’t in a relationship, the best thing you can do at the end of the day is find time for yourself — and that doesn’t mean find time to work or spend time with your friends. It means to find time to sit down and do a check-up with yourself. How are you feeling? Is there any part of your personal life that’s been neglected lately? Just do a self-check — it’s the most important part of self-care.

Dating can be confusing and time-consuming, especially in college. It’s “cuffing season” though, and it’s best to go into this whole “dating” thing prepared, if at all. Keep up with daily check-ups on your friendships, your work, your relationship and yourself. And, most importantly, have fun. Don’t waste your time on things that drain you or leave you feeling confused. People always say these are some of the “best years” of our lives, and sure, who knows if that’s true, but we can try to make it that way.

 

Contact Damian Marlow at ddrue ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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